Folks, it’s time for my annual fruitcake blog, which has become a holiday tradition.
As the Christmas holidays close in on us, we carry on the age-old traditions of our relatives. Among those traditions are scaring the hell out of the small kids with second-rate Santa outfits that make Uncle Gene look more like Nunda the Ax Murderer than St. Nick.
The money we spend on this holiday is obscene. Every year I vow to stop the madness, set an example, and refuse to accept anything materialistic—until I see the cool stuff I want.
I like to listen to Christmas music during the holiday season. Where else can you get Burl Ives, Kenny G., Michael Bolton, and Bing Crosby in the same set? Weird? Maybe— but its Christmas! Nothing has to make sense until the credit-card bill arrives in January.
No Christmas holiday season is complete without the annual “A Christmas Story” marathon and fruitcake. Nothing says Christmas like watching Santa push Ralphie down the slide and eating something that weighs more than your car. What is this fruitcake and how did it get here?
Fruitcakes: Historical perspective
Fruitcakes can be traced to the middle ages. The name is from the Latin term “Fructus” combined with the French word Frui or Frug. (Initially the name was “Spartacus” but there were copyright problems.)
References to fruitcake can be traced back as far as the Romans. They reportedly used them to sustain themselves over long periods of time; however, I believe more than likely they used them for weapons. Here is an actual paragraph taken from the history books describing the Roman army.
A key moment in Roman history was the introduction of the census (the counting of the people) under Servius Tullius. With this, the citizens were graded into five classes. The most wealthy, the first class, were the most heavily armed, equipped like the Greek hoplite warrior with helmet, round shield, greaves and breastplate, while carrying a spear and a big ol’ fructus.
In the early 1400’s the British discovered fruitcakes.
The Lambert Family, England 1400:
My husband’s ancestor Thomas Lyman, born in Navistoke, England, abt. 1470. Married Elizabeth Lambert born in High Ongar in 1474. Elizabeth’s father was Robert, son of Rolling Stone’s Keith Richards and Johanna Umfreville, daughter of Benny Hill. Richards was a real fruitcake. Loved to climb palm trees on holidays.
The British fell in love with fruitcakes soon after they began to receive dried fruits from the Mediterranean. (Sadly, the ships bringing modern dental-care techniques sank during a storm.)
The fact is that fruitcakes have been around for so long we accept them as part of the holiday tradition and the part where you actually eat it has long since become insignificant. But, in case you’re interested…here’s one not to try.
You and Your Fruitcake—a Holiday Recipe
My friend J.W. Whitlock, owner / operator of the Pines Hunt’in Shack and exclusive distributor of Uncle “Buck” Nelson’s Artificial Doe Urine and other hunting supplies has a big get-together during the Christmas holidays. Part of that get-together involves making his famous recipe for fresh fruitcake. The other part involves adult beverages and lawn darts.
What significance does this have?
A lot. That means some folks enhance the holidays with a bit of drink and fun fare. As long as you are not driving or operating heavy machinery, (only light machinery) there should be no problem.
Here is a “recipe” for J.W. Whitlock’s Fresh Fruitcake.
The symbol (*) indicates you can add one ounce of grain alcohol in addition to the listed ingredient.
2 medium oranges *
3 medium cooking apples *
2 ripe medium sized bananas *
2 large eggs *
1 1/2 cups of sugar *
1/4 pound of butter, softened *
3 cups of all purpose flour *
1 tablespoon of baking powder *
2 teaspoons of baking soda *
3/4 cup of golden raisins *
3/4 cup of finely chopped walnuts *
Cut each orange, including the rind, into 8 sections. Remove and discard seeds and any brown unidentifiable spots. Add one ounce of Miss Lacy’s special medicine that comes from the jar next to the old radiator, to a glass and drink. Chop orange finely, or so very finely, in a food processor, blender, grinder, or small rented concrete mixer.
Set aside in a 2 quart bowl. Pour another ounce from the jar and sip it as you repeat chopping with cored and cut apples, peeled if desired. Check fingers. If your in-laws are dining with you, leave the peels on. Combine apples with oranges but never compare them. Peel bananas, puree, mash or stomp really good, and then mix with other fruits. Leave banana peels on floor near in-laws. Finish first drink and pour another. Take a Lucky Strike break and mingle with the ambulance crew standing by at the lawn-dart game and then head on back in the kitchen.
Beat eggs in a large mixer bowl. Add sugar and a couple of shots of Miss Lacy’s special medicine while gradually, beating until mixture is thick and smooth, or whenever you go: “Whoooweeeee!”
Beat in butter and whatever else you find on the shelf`. Add fruits and a couple of pickled pig’s feet from that big Mason jar on top of the 8-track player.
In a 1 quart container, stir or shake the flour with baking powder and baking soda. Beat flour mixture into fruit mixture. Hit Miss Lacy’s jar again. Stir in raisins, walnuts, and some Texas Pete’s Hot Sauce. The nut pieces should be small enough not to interfere with slicing and consumption by the dentally challenged.
Turn batter into two 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pans (or the big dog dish) that have been greased and floured. Do not use the lithium grease on this one. Bake at 350ºF. for one hour or until Uncle Dewey moons the cops when they show up for the first lawn-dart injury, or until cake tests is done.
Let cool on rack before slicing. Serve plain or topped with a glaze of confectioners’ sugar, or some sprinkled Red Man, and orange juice.
Makes 2 loaves 10 to 12 servings each. After eating, wait 30 minutes before operating heavy machinery. It’s probably a good idea to stay close to the bathroom. (This stuff could unclog I-285 at rush hour.)
This is normally followed by the annual drunk-guys football game. No score. 15 pass attempts, no completions but four injuries involving pine trees and snuff.
Enjoy but don’t make plans for the rest of the day.*
*Note that this is satire and I am mostly kidding because I don’t condone any irresponsible behavior involving alcohol or lawn darts although it tends to produce some funny human behavior when funny humans drink. Drink responsibly, which may, in itself, be an oxymoron, but keep your silliness out of the car! Otherwise, enjoy.